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Leveraging a $10 million investment from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Ocean Renewable Power Co. (ORPC) plans to deploy its first commercial tidal energy device into Maine's Cobscook Bay this summer.

"The Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project is one example of the type of actions we need on a national scale to stabilize energy, prevent energy shortages and achieve national energy independence," says Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. "Continued investment and innovation in clean energy technologies are integral to advancing these goals."

The 4 MW pilot project will initially provide enough electricity to power between 75 and 100 homes. ORPC says it plans to install additional tidal energy devices to power more than 1,000 Maine homes and businesses.

In April, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved primary contract terms for 20-year power purchase agreements for the project. The PUC's order directs the three Maine investor-owned utilities - Central Maine Power Co., Bangor Hydro Electric and Maine Public Service Co. - to negotiate these agreements with ORPC.

The tidal energy devices, as well as many of their components, are being manufactured in the U.S. Additionally, technical experts from the DOE's Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado collaborated with ORPC to conduct open-water testing, refine designs and improve device performance.

Earlier this year, the DOE released a nationwide tidal energy resource assessment, identifying about 250 TWh hours of annual electric generation potential from tidal currents.

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